Thanks for being patient with me as I’ve checked out of the blogosphere these last few weeks. I wanted to make sure that my energy was in the right place before I started typing to you all again. I am responsible for the energy I bring to a space, so I didn’t want to bring you the array of feelings I’ve been experiencing, among them sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration, isolation, impatience, and denial. Never apologize for your feelings. Be one with them, work through them, and never allow others to tell you how you should feel. They are your feelings. Own them.
(A given: Apply for unemployment benefits right away. This is a long process, so don’t delay doing what you need to do.)
The first thing I suggest doing post-layoff is to give yourself a chance to relax and adapt to not being gainfully employed. I didn’t do this right away. It’s week 4 of being unemployed, and I’m just now allowing myself a chance to take a breath and chill out. The very next day after I was let go, I spent nearly 8 hours at a friend’s house using her computer to search for a job. I didn’t feel like a normal or productive member of society if I wasn’t trolling the Internet for 8 hours a day looking and applying for jobs. That is not healthy! My brain was mush at the end of the day, and one can only take so much rejection when potential employers can get back to you within 24 hours of submitting your resume to tell you that other candidates more closely match the position. Well, blah to you, too. So, dedicate a few hours of time each day to looking for jobs, not your entire day. It will wear you down if you don’t, and as a job seeker you need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for when you get called in to interview.
After you’ve given yourself a few days to acclimate, don’t continue to sleep in and be phlegmatic. Get up at a decent hour, take a shower, and get dressed. Who cares if you don’t have anywhere to go that day. Act as if you need to be prepared at a moment’s notice to go on an interview. Try to maintain a normal type of routine. This is another area that threw me for a loop. My eating habits became terrible, as I was no longer grocery shopping on a weekly basis to prepare my daily breakfasts and lunches that I’d take to the office. This was also a good reminder that I really enjoy predictability but might need to shake things up. I would take the same few things in my lunch bag every day to eat: yogurt with granola and fresh fruit for breakfast, some kind of salad or sandwich and fruits and vegetables for lunch. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve eaten a decent amount of fruits and vegetables each day, and I can tell. I don’t feel as good as I used to. This also has been affected by my sleeping habits. Yes, allow yourself to sleep in for a few days, but there is something to be said for sleeping and rising at the same times you were when you had a job to go to.
Appreciate the routines you had at work, but also be able to let them go. Make your own new routines. Most people thrive on a schedule. Creating new routines was (and still is) hard for me to do. I worked with my best friends. I’d see them every day for lunch, we’d go out for lunch, and sometimes we’d just sit in the editorial office and have a chat when we were caught up on our work and were waiting for things to come back to us from another department. I don’t get to see my friends daily anymore. I’ve seen them outside of work and have met them for lunch and whatnot, but sometimes I feel like I’m a reminder of sadness and might make them feel bad. It’s not like I complain and act sad when I see them, but I think they might need to move on, too. They still work there, and they need to be able to find a happy place. Not that we won’t be friends anymore, but I don’t want to be the one always making the effort if they don’t feel or want to reciprocate. I’m not bagging on my friends. They are awesome people. But it’s a fine line to walk when you work with your friends and then one of them gets laid off.
If one of your friends who was your coworker was laid off, be the stronger person in the relationship and reach out to them. They are already struggling with how much contact they should have with you, or if they should even be contacting you. People have trouble dealing with loss. No one is an expert or will always know what to say. But if you call them or text them and say just that, it’s enough. Hey, just thinking about you today. I don’t know what to say, but I’m here. A simple gesture like this will do wonders for the unemployed. Remember, you might still have a job. So get over yourself and be the one to reach out to the unemployed who might be in a vacuum of isolation.
If you’re unemployed, make a sincere effort to do at least one thing each day that makes you happy. This is yet another thing I didn’t do right away. One of my friends did drag me to the grocery store with her and her little boy the first week I was laid off. While I felt I had to fake being happy initially, it turned into true happiness after spending a few hours with my “nephew”. He always makes me smile. I remember I was carrying him from the parking lot to the store and he was twirling my hair and telling me how much he liked it. That validation was enough. He didn’t care whether I had a job. He was just excited to spend time with his “Aunt ‘Ria”. A few weeks later, I went to a friend’s house for a jewelry party. We had to introduce ourselves, and I refrained from saying “I’m so and so’s friend, and I used to work with her.” I just said I was her friend. I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I was a former coworker and used to work with her, and that was hard. I hate the title “former coworker”, and I was afraid I’d get all teary if I said it. I’m getting good at spontaneous combustion in the form of tears. But it wasn’t about me that night. I still attended the party and got some social interaction even if it was hard to see people who still had a job where I used to work.
I haven’t read a book since I’ve been unemployed, either. That will change. I’m in the middle of the 3rd book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Don’t feel guilty doing things that make you happy. I’ve really struggled with this, as my main goal is to find another job. However, after practicing due diligence and applying for 33 opportunities thus far (yes, I’ve counted since I have to keep a running list for unemployment benefits), it’s time for me to be patient and know that I will find a job in God’s time. I am thankful there are 33 jobs for which I feel qualified to apply.
I also enjoy writing cards and letters, so I’m practicing an attitude of gratitude and mailing some smiles. I received a few smiles myself this week. Want to know how to charm me? Send me some snail mail! It was such a neat surprise to see an envelope in my mailbox from a coworker who was on vacation the day I was let go. Thanks also to my blog readers who were so kind to email or facebook me and ask how I was doing. Even though we’re basically strangers, it means the world that you took the time to reach out. It’s also getting close to holiday card season, my favorite time of year! I’ll be crafting my annual update and inserting it into oh, just under 100 cards for family and friends. I tend to “go big” on my holiday cards. I don’t want to “go home” in this case. Stay tuned for a freelance article of mine on the importance of holiday greeting cards. I also plan on creating a vision board for my life. I bought the poster board for this months ago and never got around to doing it. Apparently, I have some extra time on my hands to create this now. 😉
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